Rhode Island County Resources

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This entry was originally written by Alice Eichholz, Ph.D., CG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the Rhode Island Family History Research series.
History of Rhode Island
Rhode Island Vital Records
Census Records for Rhode Island
Background Sources for Rhode Island
Rhode Island Maps
Rhode Island Land Records
Rhode Island Probate Records
Rhode Island Court Records
Rhode Island Tax Records
Rhode Island Cemetery Records
Rhode Island Church Records
Rhode Island Military Records
Rhode Island Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Rhode Island Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Rhode Island Immigration
Rhode Island Naturalization
Ethnic Groups of Rhode Island
Rhode Island County Resources
Map of Rhode Island
County Map of Rhode Island

The major genealogical use for counties in Rhode Island is the pursuit of court records and federal census returns. Before 1729 there were no county courts in Rhode Island. Two counties became incorporated in 1703: Providence and Newport. By 1750 all of Rhode Island’s present counties existed, and no more developed after these were formed. Bristol became a county in 1746–47 when five towns, originally belonging to Massachusetts, were ceded to Rhode Island. Perhaps because the rest of the country is so oriented to counties, some of the vital records have been published in “county” groups, but the records themselves exist only on a town level.

Modern court records are at the superior court at the county seat; earlier ones have been moved (see Rhode Island Court Records).


Map County Address Date Formed Encompassed Towns
Parent Counties
E7Bristol1746/47Barrington, Bristol, Warren
Bristol 02809Bristol County, Mass.
E4Kent1750Coventry, East Greenwich,
East Greenwich 02818ProvidenceWarwick,West Greenwich,
West Warwick
G6Newport1703Jamestown, Little Compton,
Newport 02840originalMiddletown, Newport,
New Shoreham (Block Island),
Portsmouth, Tiverton
C3Providence1703Burrillville, Central Falls,
Providence 02903originalCranston, Cumberland, East
Providence, Foster, Glocester,
Johnston, Lincoln, North
Providence, North Smithfield,
Pawtucket Providence, Scituate,
Smithfield, Woonsocket
H3Washington1729Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton,
West Kingston 02892NarragansettNorth Kingston, Narragansett,
CountryRichmond, South Kingston,
Westerly
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